We all find pain killers as a big relief when subjected to pain from any kind of illness. But we also know that there are both long- and short-term effects that we have to face by using these pain killers, which vary based on the intensity of the drug we use.
Natural Pain Suppressors Of The Body Can Be Given A Boost
The best pain suppressors are the ones that are produced by our body, but sadly they’re not enough in certain situations. Lucky for us, scientists have discovered a way by which the natural pain endorphins in our body can be boosted to the level of opioids and that too based on the necessity and duration of the pain.
Opioid drugs, which range from poppy-extracted opium to heroin, work on natural receptors present in the brain and another place in the body. The μ opioid receptor is a member of the opioid neuro-modulatory system and of the large family of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), is the main pharmacological target for the management of moderate to severe pain, and is of the main focus for the treatment of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and gastrointestinal motility dysfunction.
The mu-opioid receptor connects to our natural pain-suppressors in the human body called endogenous endorphins and enkephalins. The main problem exists as the drugs working on the mu-opioid receptor may cause addictions along with side effects like drowsiness, problems with breathing, constipation and nausea, which we all might have experienced.
The study based on a hypothesis has discovered that elements called positive allosteric modulators can be used to develop the body’s own endorphins and enkephalins. Based on a paper published in PNAS, they prove that a positive allosteric modulator known as BMS-986122 can enhance enkephalins’ ability to stimulate the mu-opioid receptor.
The added merit is that contrasting opioid drugs, positive allosteric modulators only perform in the presence of endorphins or enkephalins, which means they would only activate during immense pain. They do not get attached to the receptor in the way that opioids do; instead, they attach in a different area that improves its ability to react to the body’s pain-relieving compounds.
When our body needs enkephalins, we release them in a pulsatile manner in selected regions of the body, where they are metabolized quickly, compared to a drug like morphine that floods the body and brain and lingers around for hours. The scientists displayed the modulator’s capacity to activate the mu-opioid receptor by separating the purified receptor and measuring how it reacts to enkephalins.
Further experiments proved that the opioid receptor was more vigorously activated by the body’s pain-easing molecules leading to pain relief. Comparatively, the modulator showed much-decreased side effects of the depression of breathing and addiction risks.
The research was conducted by John Traynor, Ph.D., Andrew Alt, Ph.D., and their team at the University of Michigan Edward F. Domino Research Centre. They were funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Let’s hope there are further developments in this line as it can be a very useful discovery especially beneficial in the field of medicine.